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Sikh Advisory Board

75 Years of Legacy: History and Contributions to Nation Building

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Strengthening the Community

  1. Early Punjabi language education program
  2. The SAB assisted in getting the permission of the government in 1955 to use two government schools in Waterloo Street on Saturday mornings for the teaching of the Punjabi language to Sikh children. Around 500 Sikh children were taught Punjabi by 17 teachers with all expenses borne by the Sikh community. These classes went on until 1959 when they were shifted to Khalsa Dharmak Sabha and Sri Guru Singh Sabha.

  3. The Founding of the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation
  4. The SAB played a leading role in setting up the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation (SSEF) on 30 December 1990 to teach the Punjabi language and Sikh values to Sikh children at five Punjabi Language Centers in different parts of the island.

  5. Setting up the Sikh Welfare Council
  6. The SAB also conceptualized and led the setting up the Sikh Welfare Council (SIWEC) in December 1995 to look after the welfare needs of those in the Sikh community and those in need of assistance. Both the SSEF and SIWEC were a product of the SAB’s efforts to bring together a resource group of professionals to study and address the issues that were facing the community at that point.

  7. Sikh Leaders’ Retreat 2011 – The Way Forward
  8. A Sikh Leaders’ Retreat involving the heads of Sikh institutions, community leaders, professionals, youth and expatriates was planned and organised by the Board on 22 January 2011 to surface issues of concern to the community, have members discuss the areas identified and collectively work out solutions or recommend specific projects that could be undertaken by the community. Prior to the Retreat, the Board put out a call to the invited participants for discussion points. Issues highlighted were grouped under six areas and touched on the need to promote Sikhi and the Punjabi language, improving the academic and sporting excellence of Sikhs, extending a helping hand to the less fortunate, reaching out and engaging the youth, improving governance and management systems in Sikh institutions and establishing an Umbrella Body for the Sikh community. The Retreat was facilitated by Prof Tan Tai Yong, then Vice-Provost of the National University of Singapore. The 64 participants engaged actively on the topics of their choice and made a number of very useful suggestions. Following the one day Retreat, the groups met separately to work out action plans and timelines for one or two projects each that could be implemented over the subsequent months. The projects identified for possible implementation were presented on 18 March 2011. Participants felt that the organization of the Retreat was timely as it provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and views but more importantly, allowed them to discuss problems and co-create action plans on projects to help move the Sikh community forward.

  9. Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPC)
  10. One outcome of the Sikh Leaders’ Retreat in 2011 was the SAB setting up a steering committee to help Sikh institutions better comply with the standards of the new Commissioner of Charities Code of Conduct and Governance and Institutions of a Public Character. Several Sikh institutions were audited by the steering committee from 2012-2014 as part of this process by this steering committee. They then developed, updated and refined their internal policies to ensure compliance.

  11. Setting up the Coordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (CCSI)
  12. One outcome of the Sikh Leaders’ Retreat in 2011 was the recommendation to set up an umbrella body of all Sikh institutions where they could work together to address community-wide issues and needs and especially those that did not fall within the ambit of any Sikh institutions. The Board initiated the setting up of a loose and informal forum of heads of institutions and with the help of some Sikh leaders drafted the Terms of Reference of the CCSI. Sikh leaders endorsed the setting up of the CCSI in August 2014.

  13. Guidelines for visiting Kirtani Jathas (groups singing hymns) and other Sikh preachers
  14. The Singapore Govt has over the decades taken various steps to ensure there is continued racial and religious harmony in Singapore and that nothing is said by local or foreign segregationist preachers that would create tensions and divisiveness in our society. To support the national policy the Board came up with an undertaking document on Do’s and Don’ts that visiting jathas and preachers had to sign before speaking. These guidelines were shared with all gurdwaras and also presented at the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony at the request of MCCY where other faith groups were present as well.